“Can anyone recommend a good alternative to EBay?”
You’ve just read the only post guaranteed to get no few replies at the Warrior Forum!
It’s not so much that no other auction sites exist; I’m sure a Google search will bring up plenty, but I doubt most people could name even one without having to think themselves dizzy.
When a company with a strong offering gains a foothold in a new and growing market, they gain momentum and, just like a Juggernaut, become unstoppable once they pass a certain point, often referred to as ‘post critical mass’. In EBay’s day (circa 1995), competition was much more difficult to come by; technology was relatively expensive and development skills harder to find. It’s unsurprising that they experienced little competition and effectively grew under the radar achieving critical mass before anyone truly realised what was happening.
However, things are different today. Technology is cheap, development is even cheaper and more people than ever work for themselves as a main or secondary source of income. So the question is, why is Flippa.com the only credible dedicated website marketplace, in an exponential growth industry with transactions totalling more than $24 Million each year?
Disclaimer: we think Flippa has every right to be the market leader at the moment. The Sitepoint founders have served their time in the industry and are a shining example of young honest entrepreneurs. Flippa does what no one else currently does, serving the information in a clear informative way that makes the process of buying or selling a site easier. However, without competition, we risk putting our livelihood in the hands of one company and that can never be good thing – without competition, markets are shaped and not evolved – look how many years it took to release Microsoft’s stronghold on …well…everything computer related.
Creating a better Website Flipping Marketplace
There are deals to be found on the ‘independents’ such as Website Broker, Digital Point Forums and Websites for Sale to name a few. (In fact, you could carve a lucrative niche purely out of finding undervalued sites on the less popular marketplaces, and re listing them on Flippa where they currently sell for a slight premium.)
But they are all, in their own respects, missing something that will prevent them from being a serious competitor to Flippa, without some time and modification.
Using forum posts, listing comments and our own research we’ve compiled a list that any new marketplace should consider prior to launching.
This is the main concern for most website buyers and seems to be the prime fault with sites like Digital Point. A new marketplace would need to take measures to assure people that their hard earned dollars are safe from fraud. Arguably, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to make checks before they part with their cash, but a marketplace that adds value should make things as easy as possible for the buyer, and as difficult as possible (e.g. telephone and credit card verification, a better feedback scoring system)
2) Ease of Use
For anyone new to the industry, a dedicated marketplace is the obvious choice, as browsing through forums is a little like visiting a flea market – fun for enthusiasts and nerds but a headache for the rest of the population. Users should be able to
- Browse Listing by Categories, determined by the Site and not tagged by the user (even Flippa is still missing this one)
- Filter and sort their listings to easily remove sites that are not of interest
- Browse listings on the go through mobile sites and possibly Iphone / Android Apps
And whilst looking good should always be secondary to functionality, would it hurt to throw in a slick Ajax interface!?
3) Quality Control
One of the original site for sale marketplaces is EBay, but there’s a good reason why its only mention in this article was to prove a point; for every good listing, you’ll have to wade through 20 or so junk ones, and this is the problem so many of the new marketplaces we’ve not mentioned here fail to address.
Website Flipping is essentially taking something that hasn’t realised its full potential and taking the steps to do so; if it has no potential, it simply shouldn’t be listed.
4) Critical Mass
Without buyers there are no sellers and there are no sellers without buyers. This same conundrum is the reason so many new social networks and forums fail – they never achieve critical mass.
Any new marketplace will need to have a following from day one, or risk entering the ‘forum sandbox’ and never coming out. Building critical mass is never easy but learning from the people who have got it right
- Leverage your existing industry contacts, previous customers or twitter devotees
- Be prepared to spend some money, at least initially, to increase the rate of followers earlier rather than later and gain momentum
- Possibly focus on a niche, for example, a marketplace dedicated to sites expected to sell in excess of $5,000, to maximise your chances of gaining passionate followers
So, we eagerly wait to see if any savvy developers take the bait and give Flippa a well needed run for their money.